How Long Should A 13 Year Old Boy Work Out ADD – How to Cope

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ADD – How to Cope

Coping with ADD is a constant challenge for parents. We do not “cure” ADD. We definitely have to live with it. “How do you manage?” This is well said. I intend to give you some concrete tools that you can start using immediately with dramatic results.

Remember, ADD is an attention deficit disorder with a primary focus problem. We distinguish ADD from ADHD in that ADHD has problems with focusing and hyperactivity. I began treating this disorder(s) in 1985 before we distinguished them. I still prefer to think of them both as just “ADDING”.

An ADD child is easily distracted. They are attracted to the “next great thing”. On their way to one great item, another catches their eye and they leave. This sounds funny, but it can be frustrating for parents or teachers trying to deal with these children. In fact, get a few of them in one place and watch out. Children with ADD are much easier to deal with one on one than in a group.

In fact, attention deficit disorder is misnamed. It’s not really an attention “deficit”. In fact, the child notices or pays attention to too many things. They notice everything. That’s really too much, not too little.

The following are some excellent tips to help you deal effectively with most any child with ADD.

  1. Educate yourself. ADD is a developmental delay. A child cannot do what he is not yet capable of doing. We measure this developmental delay to be approximately 30% behind “normal” development. Therefore, a chronological 13-year-old may function more like a 9-year-old. He may look like he is 13 years old, but his abilities are only developed to the level of a 9 year old. The last two abilities that can be developed in the human brain are: 1) intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation; and 2) delayed gratification. Doesn’t every child struggle in these areas? Think of an ADD child’s brain as a really good computer, but 30% of the software has yet to be installed. Using computer analogies works well to explain this simply. It’s like you keep pressing the correct key on your keyboard and the computer doesn’t respond. You become frustrated and wonder what is wrong with your computer. Then you wonder why you are so incompetent in operating this computer. In reality, there is nothing wrong with you or the computer. It cannot yet respond to your command if the software is not installed. Just like your child cannot respond or meet your expectations because the brain has not yet developed this ability.
  2. Change your expectations. Now that you know your child has ADD, you need to adjust your expectations about his performance abilities. That doesn’t mean he isn’t smart or capable of doing many things. He may need to be told, reminded, encouraged and supervised. It is your understanding and expectations that must change first.
  3. Give one command at a time.Have you ever given a child with ADD a series of tasks like “go upstairs and make the bed, take your laundry basket, and take out the recycling?” I bet you did. And you know what happens. You find him 10 minutes later playing with the cat in the hallway outside his room. He has no idea why you’re upset, much less what you told him to do. If you’re lucky, he’s made his bed and is playing with a toy on his bedroom floor. At least he got the first assignment. An ADD child simply cannot process several tasks in a row. Stop frustrating yourself and him and take one task at a time. It will not yet happen that it processes and remembers numerous consecutive requests. Stop your own frustration. It doesn’t change. You need to change the way you assign tasks.
  4. When you give him a task, have him repeat it back to you so you know he got it.This one is huge. It sounds so simple, and it is. But it is also very powerful. Learning and memory are greatly enhanced by repetition. Additionally, the more sensory modalities you use in giving commands, the better. By modalities I mean visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Watching you or watching a task is visual. To hear you declare that it is auditory. Kinesthetics can be touch or feelings (or both). So if you touch it, smile, or create a good feeling and attitude while talking, you will be operating in all three modalities. Your child will remember more and therefore be more likely to complete the task.
  5. If you are away from home, give instructions or commands at the place of performance.We cannot expect an ADD child to remember what behavior or performance we may have. In particular, we cannot expect them to remember the specific expectations of the situation. Let’s take a shopping mall as an example. At the door of the mall, tell your child what your expectations are. Let him repeat them to you. The frequency of positive results will increase dramatically. At home, he can re-read the instructions you gave before school. Or, you can call him from work, with him in the room where you have assigned the task and you have created a performance point situation.
  6. Most importantly, as a parent, you need to relax and be as real as possible.ADD children are especially sensitive to positive or negative energy around them. They are extra sensitive. If you are negative, angry, hostile or sarcastic, they will pick up on it and be affected. Being positive. Be clear. Be firm. Be full of love. Be as honest as you can. This will always be the case whether our child has ADD or not. In my practice, I have seen some sad situations where parents are so frustrated and angry with their child that they don’t understand how they are talking to him and to him. They sound like they can’t stand the kid. It can sound so painful. Imagine the heartbreak in that child when their parent sounds like they seriously don’t love them. This can cut to the core and cause serious harm to the child. The child has not developed enough armor to withstand that much pain. It can cause long-term damage. So be loving, positive and real as much as you can.

These are just some of the things I know will help. Attention can be regained by using the child’s name. Touching the shoulder directs attention. A parent’s attitude makes all the difference in the world.

Dealing with ADD is not easy for anyone. But you can easily handle it. Many successful, powerful and happy adults had ADD as children and as adults. These children are usually bright and fun. Of course, they are sometimes irritating. But can’t we all be?

© 2010 John B Hudome, all rights reserved.

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